Daily Archives: November 26, 2015

Probably off the web until late tonight or tomorrow

Dinner at Pal Nancy’s with Sarah, Kate and Nancy’s brother Cork. John’s been fairly beaten down lately but we’re hoping he’ll rally and can join us – if not, well hell, it’s a movable feast, and we’ll go to his house.

Reflecting on gratitude this morning and, at first blush, there’s not much there. But that’s not true at all. I’m grateful I’m here for the entire family – John told me this summer I “was always the go-to guy”, and I failed at that earlier this year before getting back on my feet and rejoining them.

I’m grateful for whatever God created us, for creating mortal creatures, but also endowing them with a capacity for love, compassion and care. It’s not such a bad world, when we benefit from that gift.

And finally, I’m grateful I’ve had 18 months with John, and hopefully more, to straighten out our past and for him to finally, truly understand how much I’ve always loved him.

A long time ago, Rodney Crowell wrote a beautiful ballad called “Things I wish I’d said”. It was directed to his father by an only son, but it works the other way too.

Have a  blessed Thanksgiving, and have mercy on that niece of yours who’s fresh from college and determined to show you the errors of your ways.



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The turkey speaks

obama turkey

“Father’s in the pig pen, you’ll know him by his hat”

O’ Bummer: “Absolutely no terrorist threat this holiday weekend”

President Barack Obama sought to reassure Americans on Wednesday that his administration is working overtime to protect the U.S. from terror attacks, as tens of millions hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday.

He said that after a review of America’s security posture with his closest advisers, ‘we know of no specific and credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland.’

‘[But] if you see something suspicious, say something. That’s always helpful.’


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More “settled science”

Back in the 70s, scientists knew that coffee was a tremendous health risk; almost as bad as the deleterious effects of the coming ice age.*

1970’s and ’80’s headline: Coffee is as serious as a heart attack

A 1973 study in the New England Journal of Medicine of more than 12,000 patients found drinking one to five cups of coffee a day increased risk of heart attacks by 60% while drinking six or more cups a day doubled that risk to 120%.

Another New England Journal of Medicine study, in 1978, found a short-term rise in blood pressure after three cups of coffee. Authors called for further research into caffeine and hypertension.

But now a 40-year study at Harvard concludes otherwise:

Dr. Frank Hu just finished a 40-year study on the effects of coffee on the human body. People who drink more coffee it turns out, live longer.

Specifically, Hu’s study found that coffee-drinkers have lower risks of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as suicide.

The research began in 1976, and involved nearly 210,000 people. With all the follow-ups over the years, the study includes 4.7 million person-years of data. The scale meant it took several generations of scientists to complete the study. Hu, a researcher and professor at Harvard Medical School, himself joined in 1996. The enormous amount of data was useful, because coffee is an extraordinarily complicated drink.

“Coffee is certainly a very complex beverage,” Hu told INSIDER. Besides caffeine, it contains hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bioactive compounds. So it’s very difficult, perhaps impossible, to tease out the effects of individual compounds or chemicals.”

Coffee’s health benefits derive from not just a few compounds, but more likely the synergistic effects of many different compounds, minerals, and antioxidants. And while most people think of caffeine when they think of coffee, both regular and decaf coffee have the same effects when it comes to blood diseases and diabetes.

Hu noticed that it’s really hard to study coffee because so many coffee-drinkers smoke.

“We found that the health benefits of coffee are more pronounced, or evident, in people who don’t smoke,” Hu said. “In other words, smoking actually masks the potential health benefits of drinking coffee, and it’s really important to separate the effects of coffee from smoking.”

In addition to Hu’s new study — which had ten co-authors in total — previous research shows that drinking coffee regularly is associated with a decreased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease, including liver cancer. It’s also associated with a decreased risk of depression and suicide, helps the body metabolize blood sugar, improves insulin sensitivity, and can even reduce inflammation.



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To protect and to serve

Cops raid mahjong game

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. (CBS Tampa) — Police in Florida busted a game of mahjong in Florida at a condominium clubhouse. The group accused of the crime: four women between the ages of 87 and 95.

Heritage Florida reports that police came to shut down the friendly game played by Lee Delnick, Bernice Diamond, Helen Greenspan and Zelda King.

King says word spread about their weekly gathering and that a “troublemaker” in the community called the police citing a law that prohibits playing the game for money. Police closed the clubhouse.

The women were sent a formal notice from condominium management stating that there would be no more mahjong, bingo, or poker played in the location until further notice. Police reportedly stopped by several times later that week to make sure the games weren’t being played.

“This is ridiculous,” King said. “We haven’t played in the clubhouse for weeks! We have to go to each other’s homes to play and not everyone lives in Escondido. It is an international game and we are being crucified!”

The 87-year-old said the game is good for the elderly and that even her doctor has told her that it can delay dementia. The women suggested they could “just play for fun” without money, but the property manager said they should “lay low,” until things were resolved.

In case you’re curious, and wonder whether the Altamonte Springs police might have better things to direct their time and resources towards, here are the crime statistics for the town.

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Still more on the latest campus craze, “cultural appropriation”


Cross-fertilization, and I like it

Coyote Blog nails it

If Westerners can’t do yoga and Cinco de Mayo parties, can we have our polio vaccines back?

With news that even yoga classes are being cancelled due to fears of Westerners appropriating from other cultures, I am led to wonder — why don’t these prohibitions go both ways?  If as a white western male, I can’t do yoga or host a Cinco de Mayo party or play the blues on the guitar, why does everyone else get to feed greedily from the trough of western culture?  If I can’t wear a sombrero, why do other cultures get to wear Lakers jerseys, use calculus, or even have polio vaccines?  Heck, all this angst tends to occur at Universities, which are a quintessentially western cultural invention.  Isn’t the very act of attending Harvard a cultural appropriation for non-Westerners?

I say this all tongue in cheek just to demonstrate how stupid this whole thing is.  Some of the greatest advances, both of science and culture, have occurred when cultures cross-pollinate.  I have read several auto-biographies of musicians and artists and  they all boil down to “I was exposed to this art/music from a different culture and it sent me off in a new direction.”  The British rock and roll invasion resulted from American black blues music being dropped into England, mutating for a few years, and coming back as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Or here is an even better example:  the movie”A fistful of Dollars”.  That was an American western with what has become a quintessentially American actor, Clint Eastwood.  However, it was originally an Italian movie by Italian director Sergio Leone (it was not released in the US until 3 years after its Italian release).   But Sergio Leone borrowed wholesale for this movie from famed Japanese director Akiro Kurosawa’s Yojimbo.  But Kurosawa himself often borrowed from American sources, fusing it with Japanese culture and history to produce many of his famous movies.  While there is some debate on this, Yojimbo appears to be based on Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, a classic of American noir fiction.


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So what does the Junior League actually do, except come up with bad ideas for spending the town’s money?

Their money at work: the Greenwich Junior League ladies throw themselves a party

Their money at work: the Greenwich Junior League ladies throw themselves a party

Not much, as this missive from Walt  (is that better than screed, pal?) shows:

Dude –

So I was wondering if I was too harsh today. And I started to feel bad. Contrary to what you believe, I actually do have a conscience.

So given that the press only shows the Junior League at their annual soirée, and says NOTHING about what they actually do, I decided to dig a bit and find out what it is they actually do. And I did. And do you know what they actually do? NOTHING!! Except have an annual party to celebrate how wonderful they all are.

Actually, in fairness, for the year ended June 30, 2014, they gave away FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!! Don’t believe me? You can see it here:

FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!! In a year!! I piss that away on a hand of cards. I tip my bartender more. I pay more than that for thank you notes to the hotties!!

They had revenues of $369,540, grants of $5,000, salaries of $49,287, and “other expenses” of $309,599. The “Other Expenses” include the cost of running their clubhouse at 231 E. Putnam Ave, on their books for $1.5 million, “Food & Beverages” of $32k, and entertainment of $9k.

So they raised $369,540 of donations, and gave away $5,000!! No wonder the paper doesn’t cover their charitable causes, because there are none!! It looks like a haus frau social club to me. Nice job ladies. Give yourselves a pat on the back.

I would welcome some feedback from someone familiar with the Junior League, and tell me what I am missing. If I am wrong, I will give a heartfelt apology, and make a $5k donation to the YWCA. And do as much as the junior League apparently does in a whole year. And there is like 30 of them!! I am not giving it to the Junior league to fund their kibitzers.

Your Pal,

By the way, this whole bit about the JL was sparked by my posting of a couple of shots from  Greenwich Time of people who willingly had their photos taken, and eagerly (I assume) agreed to have them posted on the Internet, where I found them, and supplied some inappropriate captions. Pressed by a pair of angry husbands, I took them down, and, while I certainly don’t want to start that all over again, I thought to link to all the pictures here, and let readers search for the bored pair, and the person with what could fairly, but certainly erroneously be considered a lascivious leer.

Actually, there are any number of candidates in both categories, so have fun.



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